Ayman al-Zawahiri death: Biden says ‘justice delivered’ after drone strike kills al-Qaida chief – live updates
Here is an excerpt from Jason Burke’s analysis for the Guardian of whether the death of Ayman al-Zawahiri will weaken al-Qaida:
Whoever takes over, his strategic decisions will be important. Though al-Qaida was known for its innovative empowerment of local cells, the man at the top of the hierarchy has real authority. An oath of loyalty is sworn not to the group, but to the individual.
When Zawahiri became leader after Bin Laden’s death in a US special forces raid in Pakistan in 2011, he turned al-Qaida away from spectacular long-range attacks, believing they were counterproductive.
Instead, links with groups around the world were reinforced and efforts made to expand through gradually winning support from communities on the ground. This did not always bring success, and al-Qaida suffered significant setbacks in Iraq and Syria during the 11 years Zawahiri was in charge.
The rise of a rival, Islamic State, which swept through these two countries and set up a new “caliphate”, led to a loss of profile and influence in a key region as well as competition elsewhere. The limited achievements of its affiliate in Yemen, once seen as a major potential threat to the region and the west, must have been a disappointment.
What will be the strategy of the new leader? Whoever takes over has multiple options – but no easy ones. He has to stay alive, communicate despite considerable logistic challenges, deal with regimes such as the Taliban and formulate a clear idea of what his subordinates should be doing.
You can read more of Jason Burke’s analysis here: Zawahiri’s killing unlikely to weaken al-Qaida significantly